Skip to main content

Mad Max: Fury Road

There have already been plenty of interesting articles about this movie, an early pick for my favorite of the year (at least until until I have a chance to check out Star Wars). Some have noted the implicit feminism of this movie, the way the story revolves around women and their allies finding a new way forward through the wasteland of the real even while pursued by bellowing and decayed mockeries of the old patriarchies. Others have commented on the quality of the action film-making here, the style of drama sweeping the viewer into a tense and kinetic plot with unbelievable stunts and practical effects.


Two things grabbed my imagination about this excellent movie: its refreshing narrative clarity and coherence and the incredibly detailed and economical world-building.

After watching this movie I had a pretty good sense where everything happened. I understood the path Imperator Furiosa (great names in this film, BTW) took on her flight from the forces of the predatory Immortan Joe and his fanatical War Boys, could even sketch a map of their trek. Beyond that, I had a sense of the intererior space of the war-rig, the heavily-modded tractor trailer Fuiriosa drove, how one might get from the front of the vehicle to the back and where each character was in that space in any given moment of the film.That is a sadly unappreciated detail in modern cinema. I enjoyed Age of Ultron, but thinking about it, I’d have to say Whedon employs the chaos cinema style of post-2000 movies. The impression of battle and action and frenetic motion was more important than any specific understanding of which Avenger was where during the final fight. I am no fundamentalist when it comes to action. I’ve enjoyed what might be called classic cinema and I’ve enjoyed the whirling, bewildering sensorium of “heightened continuity.” That said, I do lean towards the former.

For a movie as simple and keyed-into detail as Fury Road, understanding a sequence of action reassures and engages. Director George Miller clearly wants viewers to participate in this movie as active spectators, not lulled into a fitful slumber by haphazard explosions and showers of punch/kicks. Comprehension of danger here fuels tension, builds suspense.

The details matter.

They matter in the way the chase unfolds and they matter in the participants of this specific, hyper-contextualized drama. Every car, every scarred body, every scene communicates an entire world to the viewer. Very little needs exposition, but every two-headed gecko, tattoo, and car-mod weaves together a bleak and corroded vision of the post-apocalypse. Miller doesn’t both holding our hands, walking through each cute gimmick, its origin or purpose. But neither does he simply dangle it in the background as amusing distractions. This is a world where something as simple as a gearshift conceals a dagger, and a complicated pattern is needed to avoid a truck’s kill-switch. These are important points in the plot, lethal subtleties.

In addition, Miller understands that life is constantly in motion, constantly changing. Even as he presents this world to us, the particulars of it are decaying, flying apart, vanishing.

I’m also going to reserve a sentence or two for the acting - in particular Charise Theron’s Furiosa and Tom Hardy’s Mad Max. In a movie with little dialogue it becomes crucial that every look and gesture sells the leads’ humanity and complexity. Both actors are models of strength and vulnerability, tension and release.

See this movie. Watch it twice.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Reading Response to "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

Reader Response to “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Morgan Crooks I once heard Flannery O’Connor’s work introduced as a project to describe a world denied God’s grace. This critic of O’Connor’s work meant the Christian idea that a person’s misdeeds, mistakes, and sins could be sponged away by the power of Jesus’ sacrifice at Crucifixion. The setting of her stories often seem to be monstrous distortions of the real world. These are stories where con men steal prosthetic limbs, hired labor abandons mute brides in rest stops, and bizarre, often disastrous advice is imparted.  O’Connor herself said of this reputation for writing ‘grotesque’ stories that ‘anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.’ This is both a witty observation and a piece of advice while reading O’Connor’s work. These are stories about pain and lies and ugliness. The brutality that happens to characters …

Arisia 2019: Wrap Report

Arisia 2019 is over!

It’s back to the real world this week after an entire weekend in Arisia 2019. I go to this convention every year, but this one will definitely be special to me. For one thing, this is the year that felt, at least for a moment, like it wasn’t going to happen. If the debacle with the e-board wasn’t enough, there was the strike at the Westin. The convention felt slimmer this year for sure. A lot of people self-selected to not come this year and honestly with the smaller, more confined venue of the Boston Park Plaza, that was a decision enormously beneficial to my enjoyment of this con.
I had a blast. I was more invested in the panels this year because I wrote a portion of them. It’s one thing to go to a panel and listen for reading suggestions, or new ideas, or people to follow on social media, but it’s quite another to put together a panel of people to create a very specific conversation and then get to sit back to see how the discussion plays out. I loved that aspect…

All Words Are Made Up

The title of this post (and the panel I’m participating in for Arisia 2019) come from a random exchange between Thor and Drax in last year’s “Infinity War” movie. It’s what Thor replies when to Drax when the always literal-minded hero doubts the existence of Niðavellir its forge. It’s a funny throw-away line and the title of this post because I think there’s always been a bit of defensiveness on my part when I add some invented vocabulary to a story of mine.

The art and craft of inventing new languages has a surprisingly long history. A 12th century nun by the Saint Hildegard is credited with one of the first (sadly incompletely recorded) constructed language. There was also a period during the Enlightenment when the creation of ‘philosophical languages,’ meant to resolve age-old problems and reshape society, were the vogue. Gottfried Leibniz, for example, tried to a create a language that was logically self-consistent. The task proved too much for him, but that drive to bring the peop…